Formula One Teams sample Pirelli tyres in mixed conditions

22 February 2011

All 12 Formula One teams have gathered some vital information about the Pirelli PZero tyres that they will use this year after completing a four-day test covering more than 18,000 kilometres at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona.

The circuit is used heavily for testing as it normally offers a warm climate all year, but temperatures were generally low throughout the Friday to Monday test, with overnight rain frequently making the track damp in the morning. The conditions also meant that it was hard for the track to rubber in.

Nonetheless, while not representative of the conditions that teams will typically face during the coming season, the mixed weather in Barcelona allowed the teams to sample a wide range of Pirelli tyres: supersoft, soft, medium and hard compounds for dry weather, as well as the intermediate tyre – which three teams used on runs in excess of 40 laps. Pirelli brought evolution versions of the supersoft and soft tyre to Barcelona, as per the scheduled development programme in the build-up to the first Grand Prix of the season.

In total each team had a maximum of 30 sets of tyres at their disposal, split between the different compounds that they had each previously nominated to test. Thus meant that 360 of the new PZero tyres were available for use in Spain, allowing teams to acquire information that will be vital when it comes to formulating race strategies this year.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “After 11 days of official tests so far this year, the teams have understood a bit more about the characteristics of our tyres and we have been able to gather an increased amount of data across the board. We’ve seen quite a few of the teams heading out for long runs here in Barcelona, which has allowed them to assess our tyres over a race distance and formulate a few ideas about strategy. Ambient temperatures were once again not what we hoped to see: we started
off with six degrees centigrade in the morning here, whereas nearly all of the races we are going to this year start off with temperatures of at least 15 degrees. That has resulted in some characteristics that have not matched up with what we previously found when we tested in Barcelona with much warmer conditions. One thing that everybody seems to agree on is that tyres will be central to the action this year, offering new opportunities for overtaking – which I think everybody wants to see. Barcelona is a circuit that puts a lot of
stress on the front-left tyre in particular, so I’m very pleased with the integrity of the tyre construction.”

Overnight rain in Spain on Friday and Saturday allowed teams to sample Pirelli’s intermediate tyres over a distance for the first time, which received positive feedback for their durability and adaptability. The drying track also allowed the teams to assess the allimportant crossover point: the zone during which the lap time improves by changing from intermediate tyres to slicks.

Red Bull Racing driver and reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel topped the times during the opening two days of the Barcelona test, with Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) setting fastest time on Sunday and Felipe Massa (Ferrari) going quickest on Monday. The fastest overall time of the test was clocked by Massa on Sunday with a benchmark of 1m22.625s.

During the first day on Friday the 12 teams ran for a total of 851 laps, the equivalent of 3961.40 kilometres. Saturday’s action took in 1121 laps, another 5218.25 kilometres. On Sunday, 1106 laps and 5148.43 kilometres were covered, while the final day took in 923 laps and 4296.56 kilometres.

Over the course of the four days, where temperatures ranged between six and 19 degrees centigrade ambient, the teams racked up 4001 laps and 18624.65 kilometres of the Circuit de Catalunya on Pirelli tyres. This has added to the 18,000 kilometres that the Italian firm covered in private testing with the Toyota TF109 since August 2010 and the 25,437 kilometres that have been completed during the group tests so far this year (10,865 kilometres in Valencia and 14,572 kilometres in Jerez). On top of that, the teams first sampled Pirelli PZero rubber during a two-day test after last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, running for 11,000 kilometres. This brings the grand total of Pirelli’s testing so far to nearly 75,000 kilometres: the equivalent of around 250 Grands Prix.

Claudia Tallone